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MUSIC REVIEWS : Soviet Georgia Ensemble in Pasadena

November 03, 1987|TERRY McQUILKIN

For the second program in its International Chamber Orchestra Series, Ambassador Auditorium on Sunday night hosted--as it had at the opening event, two weeks earlier--an ensemble from the Soviet Union. If these American tours by Soviet orchestras--in each case the first--are a manifestation of glasnost, audiences here have good reason to rejoice.

The Georgian Chamber Orchestra, like the Moscow Virtuosi, presented a varied program on its Pasadena stop that included a work by Shostakovich and a solo vehicle for its violinist-conductor, Liana Isakadze.

The vehicle this time turned out to be Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," which occupied the second half of the concert. Here the violinist exhibited flawless control, a vibrant tone, exact intonation and great agility. Passionate and assertive at times, delicate and sensitive at others, Isakadze, aided by 19 fellow musicians, made each concerto particularly vivid and utterly convincing.

The encores offered further evidence of her virtuosity (Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 5) and sensitivity (two excerpts from from Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess," as arranged by Isakadze).

Before intermission the batonless conductor led the orchestra in a dramatic, poignant reading of Shostakovich's Chamber Symphony, Opus 110a. Lyric, passionate and oft-changing in mood, this brilliant work, a transcription of the composer's String Quartet No. 8, served well to exhibit the ensemble's dynamic control, rhythmic flexibility and interpretive uniformity. Superb individual solos complemented the sure ensemble playing.

A light, gentle performance of Rossini's String Sonata No. 3 opened the program.

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